Archive for August 2nd, 2013

CONCACAF denies Warner’s claims over suit

| 02/08/2013 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The regional football body CONCACAF has denied allegations made by Jack Warner that the confederation has given the former official permission to undertake or consented to any legal action he said he is planning against Sir David Simmons who chaired the football association’s ethics committee. According to regional reports, Warner plans to sue Simmonds because of findings made by the committee that Warner fraudulent in his management of CONCACAF which is now headed up by Caymanian, Jeffery Webb. Simmons, a former chief justice in Barbados and his committee released the report in April leading Warner to resign as National Security Minister, in Trinidad.

Warner told the press in Trinidad this week that a legal challenge will be mounted against Simmons after he had received legal advice that the report was flawed and Warner said he had “received an agreement from CONCACAF, for permission to take legal action against Simmons.
However, the confederation was quick to deny any such permission as the body said it supported Sir David Simmons’ committee’s findings.

“CONCACAF has had no discussions with Mr Warner regarding, nor does it consent to the undertaking of, any legal action against Sir David Simmons, any other member of the Integrity Committee, any member or executive of CONCACAF or any member of the Football community.  CONCACAF fully supports the findings of the independent Integrity Committee,” it stated Friday.

At a press briefing in his constituency, Warner refused to divulge further information but said in time this agreement with CONCACAF As well as his grounds for the legal action would be made public.

“Everything is timing,” Warner said.

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Tibbetts gets behind scenes tour of new building

| 02/08/2013 | 33 Comments

(CNS): As the minister who had instigated the development of government’s new hi-tech, eco-friendly building when he was leader of government business and minister of planning in the 2005-09 PPM administration, Kurt Tibbetts finally got to see behind the scenes of the finished product recently. Back in the job as minister for planning, among other responsibilities, the former LoGB was shown how the building, which can accommodate over 1,000 workers, is helping to cut both communications and energy costs for the treasury. 

Acting Head of Facilities Management Troy Whorms and Building Manager Adam McLaren escorted him on a behind-the-scenes look. In the control rooms they explained the automated Building Management System (BMS) which controls the engineering suites, and cooling plants that support one of the central data systems.

One of the Caribbean’s only self-contained automated BMS-driven Computer Room Air Control Systems, it requires few staff to manage, as the internal plant management and troubleshooting programmes do most of the work, by identifying and prompting pro-active action on technical issues.

In 2012 these and other innovations earned GAB a silver-rating for ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) among certified ‘green’ buildings. The USA rating-system considers a building’s design, construction and high-performance operations. A milestone in building technology for the entire region, the building benefits from greed renewable features such as the use of geo-thermal and heat-recovery systems. Energy-generating heat is harnessed by an innovative technology ‘air-transfer’ system.  ‘Daylight harvesting’ allows ambient light to supplement the electric lights.

In terms of local power generation, the two-megawatt system is second in size to Caribbean Utilities Company’s (CUC’s) facility. Other efficiencies include a state-of-the-art telecommunications system. An internet-based communications programme comfortably manages all 1,500 telephone users throughout government, including an array of departments, such as Customs, Public Works, Children and Family Services, and the Courts Office.

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Man mugged at gunpoint

| 02/08/2013 | 61 Comments

(CNS): A man was robbed at gunpoint around 3:10 this morning as he arrived at his home on Bougainvillea Way, Savannah. A report from the RCIPS states that as he left his vehicle and approached his front door he was suddenly confronted by two masked men, one of whom was in possession of what appeared to be a handgun and the other a wrench. The suspects threatened the man and then ran off from thescene with a small quantity of cash and a ring. No shots were fired and no-one was injured. The suspects were both wearing hoodies and had their faces covered by cloth, police said. One of the men was described as being 6-foot tall and both spoke with Caymanian accents. No further descriptions are available at this time.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time is asked to contact Bodden Town police station on 947-2220, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777, or Crime Stoppers on  800-8477 (TIPS).

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Rising climates linked to rising violence

| 02/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Shifts in climate are strongly linked to increases in violence around the world, a study suggests. US scientists found that even small changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders, as well as group conflicts and war. The team says with the current projected levels of climate change, the world is likely to become a more violent place. The study is published in Science. Marshall Burke, from the University of California, Berkeley, said: "This is a relationship we observe across time and across all major continents around the world. The relationship we find between these climate variables and conflict outcomes are often very large."

The researchers looked at 60 studies from around the world, with data spanning hundreds of years. They report a "substantial" correlation between climate and conflict. Their examples include an increase in domestic violence in India during recent droughts, and a spike in assaults, rapes and murders during heatwaves in the US.

The report also suggests rising temperatures correlated with larger conflicts, including ethnic clashes in Europe and civil wars in Africa.

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Taylor defends decisions over Operation Tempura

| 02/08/2013 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The seemingly never-ending saga of the bugled internal police probe, Operation Tempura, is likely to continue dragging on for some time, but the departing governor of the Cayman Islands has defending his part in the costly escapade. Speaking at a final press briefing with the local media on Thursday, Duncan Taylor said he had not “drawn breath” in relation to anything to do with the corruption investigation into the RCIPS without seeking legal advice. He said that his office had continued to fight the release of a report regarding a complaint by Martin Bridger, the senior investigating officer, because he believed it contained defamatory material which could not be published.

Taylor defended his decision to seek a judicial review of the information commissioner’s order to release the details of a complaint in connection with the investigation, because of what are believed to be allegations about senior officials here, most of which are now in the public domain. He said that if the judge finds otherwise, then it will be made public

When he arrived in the Cayman Islands he had said that Operation Tempura was over, he said. “Well it was, but consequential disputes continue,” he added, pointing to the ongoing court cases, including his own with the information commissioner and Bridger’s dispute over documents. The governor also noted the continuing allegations being made about the conduct of some officials, which he said had to be taken seriously and looked at carefully within the law.

“I hope that these outstanding issues will be resolved in the not too distance future,” Taylor added.

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Dry weather and new customers boost CUC profits

| 02/08/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Grand Cayman’s monopoly power provider enjoyed a boost in profits during the second quarter of 2013 compared to 2012 after half as much rain fell in Cayman in the period this year against last year’s rain gauge. As well as making money from existing customers who were forced to crank up the air condition Caribbean Utilities Company also enjoyed a boost in sales from a 1% growth in overall customer numbers. For the three months ended June 30, 2013 the firm clocked up earnings of $5.7 million, an increase of $0.6 million over the $5.1million for the three months ended June 30, 2012. Read more on CNS Business

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Church in NBF cash bust up

| 02/08/2013 | 103 Comments

(CNS): The former pastor of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, West Bay, has raised questions about claims made by the current pastor over how cash from the controversial Nation Building Fund was used in what appears to be a major bust up between the two religious leaders. Following the return of over $720,000 last month to government from an original grant of $1.3 million, the church said US$125,000 of the government cash was used to pay off the church’s mortgage. However, Pastor John Case, who led the church at the time, said this is untrue as the loan was paid off with the church’s own funds, not from the NBF grant, and has queried what happened to the money. Documents shown to CNS support the former pastor’s claim but Pastor Denis McCoy has accused his predecessor of twisting the truth.

The current pastor said that the money used to pay off the loan was always intended to be replaced by the cash which came from the Nation Building Fund, as noted in correspondence from the premier, and he said the former pastor and church treasurer, Garfield Powery, were “playing with words”.

The loan payment of almost $125,000 depleted the church accounts, McCoy stated, and as a result, money was taken from the Nation Building Fund grant and distributed into general reserves.

However, documentation held by former church elders demonstrates that the church had already received the government grant when the loan was paid off using cash that came from donations and the church’s self-insurance account for hurricane protection and not the grant.

In an open letter to the press regarding the details, Case said the decision to pay off the loan with existing church money was made in November of 2009. On 7 January 2010 US$46,428.57 was transferred from the regular church account to its hurricane fund to make a final payment of US$124,686.72 to the loan company and bank fees of $202.81, making a total expenditure of $124,889.53 on 15 January, after the money from government had been received and paid into another account.

“While this depleted the hurricane fund, it did not deplete the CI funds the church and school had and none of these funds were from the government grant,” Case wrote in his letter. “The funds transferred were collected for the pay-off or were reserved CI funds. If the pastor and current board would do an audit they would find that the Government funds (from the initial nation building grant) of $250,000.00, which was what we had received of the Government Grant up till that time, were still in the accounts and that there were plenty of funds left in both the church and Wesleyan Christian Academy CI accounts for operational expenses.”

A church elder showed Cayman News Service the statements, cheques and other documentation that supported this claim, but the current pastor was adamant that this was not the case. He said that while funds may have been transferred, this created a hole in the church cash reserves, which everyone had agreed would be replaced by the Nation Building Fund grant.

“They knew the money was coming from government and so they took all the money they had and paid off the loan knowing the grant was coming,” he said. “They are trying to make it look as though they did something noble and imply that me or someone did something wrong but that is a lie; we accounted for every penny,” he said. “I am so sorry that Pastor Case chose to get involved in this and take the low road to say someone has done something inappropriate. They are playing with words they paid off the loan knowing this money was coming.”

However, the former church board told CNS that Pastor Denis McCoy was not in Cayman at the time and that they simply did not need the $125,000 or so for the loan as they had it covered – something which the outgoing pastor had wanted to achieve before he left, leaving the new pastor with no outstanding loan payments. The church’s own money was used after the government grant arrived, which was sitting in a different account. In addition, the church statements show that the account still had money after the loan was paid.

“What is significant in the claims made by Pastor McCoy is that the account we used to pay off the loan was not the account where the grant was held,” said a church elder who was involved in the re-payment of the loan. “When we had a meeting about the money with Pastor McCoy no one was allowed to ask questions about what had happened to that money,” he said, emphasising again that the loan re-payment did not deplete the church coffers.

The church elder told CNS that despite the letter from the premier, the church did not need the Nation Building Fund grant for the loan; it needed it to build a much-needed hurricane centre for West Bay.

See full details in letter from Pastor Case below.

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Students win private school scholarships

| 02/08/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Daniel Nicholson and Drew Milgate have been awarded specialist scholarships to attend the Cayman International School and Cayman Prep and High School respectively with a focus on maths and science. The Minds Inspired local High School Scholarship which is funded by Dart is now in its second year. Daniel and Drew have been awarded full tuition costs, for four years, at the schools they chose and will also benefit from the creation of a college fund, a mentoring programme and other activities to support them. Applications were received from students attending both private and public schools, officials said, from every private and public school in the Cayman Islands, making the competition fierce.

Daniel and Drew were described as outstanding young scholars who completed a rigorous testing and interview process.

Dart said the interview process ensures integrity of the outcome by keeping the identities of the applicants anonymous to the selection committee. Their names were only released internally when the final decision had been made.

Mark VanDevelde, Chief Executive Office at Dart congratulated the two new recipients. “The caliber of the finalists was impressive. Their character, tenacity and professionalism – especially at this young age – stood out and this makes Daniel and Drew’s accomplishment even more notable. These young Caymanians are our future leaders, and that gives me a great sense of confidence for the future of our country,” he said

The other three finalists: Alexander Slocock, Jacie Mascarenhas and Haley Wilhelm who, along with the two scholarship recipients, received the new Apple iPad presented in recognition of their hard work during the selection process.

Glenda McTaggart, Manager, Learning and Development at Dart Enterprises Ltd. Said she was looking forward to welcoming Daniel and Drew to the Minds Inspired programme and to introducing them to last year’s winners – David Forbes and Ethan Whittaker who are taking full advantage of the scholarships benefits

The Minds Inspired Programme also recognises the important role played by the students’ schools and so a grant of CI$1,000 will be awarded to the math and science departments of Cayman International School and Cayman Prep and High School at the first assembly of the 2013-14 academic school year.

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South Sound group presses on in face of blasting

| 02/08/2013 | 18 Comments

(CNS): The community action group, Protect South Sound, is pressing on with its campaign to preserve the area’s coastline, despite the advancement of a controversial development in the neighbourhood. A spokesperson for the group said that it was still waiting for a date for the first Planning Appeal Tribunal (PAT) hearing. The group said it was ready for the hearing but it was waiting on the PAT to be re-appointed. Meanwhile, blasting has started in South Sound on the inland Adagio Community development and residents are already feeling the blasts, which are expected to happen fortnightly for the next twelve months as the developer creates artificial lakes.

A resident on Bel Air Drive said that when she first heard and felt the horrific noise and shaking, it felt like an earthquake. She was informed by the National Roads Authority that blasting had begun in June and what he described as 'safe' blasts would occur about every two weeks for the next year or so.

“My family and I are concerned how the repercussions are going to affect our environment, our residences and our lives. These continued blastings cannot be safe for any structures as it felt as if my ceiling was going to collapse,” the resident reported.

Meanwhile, in order to raise funds to keep the campaign going, Protect South Sound is joining with Bliss Yoga for a fundraising community yoga event on Sunday morning 4 August at 8:30am on the beach in South Sound by the empty lot halfway between Winter Haven and The Avenue.

See details below.

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